Apr 2, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Kansas Jayhawks players Elijah Johnson (15) and Tyshawn Taylor (10) and Jeff Withey (5) bring the ball up court during the second half in the finals of the 2012 NCAA men

Big 12 Men’s Basketball Preview: Kansas Jayhawks

The Kansas Jayhawks came so close to becoming the 2012 NCAA National Champions, but fell short by one game. After finishing the Big 12 Conference Tournament with a 27-6 overall record, the Jayhawks were jipped out of being a #1 seed and earned a bid to the NCAA National Tournament as a #2 seed.

Kansas pushed all the way to the National Championship in New Orleans, Louisiana. They defeated teams like #15 Detroit in the second round, #10 Purdue in the third round, #11 North Carolina State in the Sweet 16, #1 North Carolina in the Elite Eight, and #2 Ohio State in the Final Four.

However, Kansas fell just one win shy of a national title as the Jayhawks lost to Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and the Kentucky Wildcats in the NCAA National Championship game.

Kansas might be trying to reach the championship game again this season, but will need to do it without two of their biggest players from 2011-2012. Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor both left Kansas to play in the NBA. Robinson averaged 17.7 points per game and 11.9 rebounds per game last season and was drafted by the Sacramento Kings. Taylor averaged 16.6 points per game and 4.8 assists per game and was drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers, but was traded to the Brooklyn Nets.

This season, Kansas earned a ranking of 7th in the AP Top 25 Poll. This is the fifteenth time since the 1992-1993 season that the Jayhawks will enter the season ranked 7th or better. Two players that will need to help the Jayhawks climb in the rankings this season are Jeff Withey and Elijah Johnson.

Last season, Withey averaged 9.0 points per game and 6.3 rebounds per game while Johnson averaged 10.2 points per game and 1.4 steals per game.

Withey has received national attention this preseason. He was named an honorable mention on the 2012-13 Associated Press preseason All-America Team and was selected as one of 30 men’s candidates for the 2012-13 Senior CLASS Award in collegiate basketball.

The Jayhawks also have seven freshmen joining the roster this season. One of these freshmen includes Perry Ellis. In high school, Ellis led Wichita Heights to four-straight Class 6A State Titles and was named a four-time Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year. He also averaged 25.8 points and 9.4 rebounds as a senior at Wichita Heights High School.

In Kansas’ first exhibition game against Emporia State, Ellis was perfect from the floor by making all five of his shots. He finished the game with 15 points, seven rebounds, and two assists in sixteen minutes of playtime.

The Kansas Jayhawks have a very good chance of getting back to the National Championship game in 2013. In the Big 12 Conference, the biggest team that Kansas needs to watch out for is Baylor. Baylor is currently ranked 19th in the nation and has the talent to make the same run as Kansas.

However, the key for Kansas will be how quickly the whole team can gel together, They start the season with a fairly easy game against Southeast Missouri State, but play a tough game against #13 Michigan State right after that. If the Kansas Jayhawks can gel together quickly this season, there is no reason way they couldn’t make a run for the title this year.

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Tags: Big 12 Jeff Withey Kansas Jayhawks Perry Ellis

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